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The Volkswagen Touareg

If you're after a people carrier, but the Volkswagen Sharan feels a little too big for your needs, then the Touran could be right up your street.

Tall and roomy enough for the family inside but compact enough on the outside to fit easily into supermarket spaces, the Volkswagen Touran has proved to be a top-rated seller since its launch back in 2003. 

The Touran is now on its third generation, and the latest version was updated in 2015. Its styling makes it look like a slightly smaller Sharan, so it fits right in with the family look. Read on if you'd like to find out more about this practical family companion.

Why should I buy one?

VW is very good at updating its models at the right time, tweaking the styling and adding extra tech to keep them moving with the times. This has helped the Touran last for almost 20 years so far and made it a resounding success with demanding family buyers.

As style-conscious buyers flock to stylish SUVs, those who need the practicality of an MPV will love the Touran for its unflappable capability and reliability.

Large rear doors and a massive boot opening give you access to the Touran's cabin, with seven seats as standard and still enough room for the shopping.

Better still, the five rear seats fold down flat to give you the load-lugging ability of a small van. You can also adjust the second row of seats individually to help give people more legroom when needed.

The rearmost seats are designed with children in mind but should be acceptable for adults travelling on short journeys. Each of the rear seats also has ISOFIX mounting points for child seats, so wherever your kids sit, they will be securely kept in place.

This helped the Touran achieve the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. With families in mind, the Touran is dripping with safety gear, including a range of airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and collision avoidance sensors.

The dashboard and instruments will be familiar to any seasoned VW driver, with thoughtfully laid out switchgear that feels chunky and well assembled.

Build quality is excellent inside and out, and everything should be very hardwearing to help the Touran cope with any assault by the kids!

The Touran is taller than your average family hatchback, so you sit slightly higher, giving you a better view of your surroundings and aiding parking.

VW has also added some neat extra touches, including technology to amplify voices using the car speakers, so you don't have to shout to speak to people in the back row.

You will quickly establish that this car has been built from the ground up to cater to every family's needs.

The driving experience is comfortable and predictable, with a smooth ride, decent handling and direct steering.

If you enjoy driving like your hair is on fire, then the Touran is probably not for you, but it couldn't be more perfect for competent family motoring.

What engines and trim levels are available?​

Anyone with experience of the Volkswagen range will find the Touran's selection of engines and models very familiar. 

There is a range of petrol and Diesel engines available to suit your tastes and requirements, and you can also get manual and DSG automatic versions of most versions except the smallest. 

In terms of petrol versions, these start with a 1.2 TSI turbo unit that is surprisingly capable given the Touran's size. This offers 110bhp and returns up to 52 miles per gallon. It's perfect for running around town, but you won't find it especially powerful out on open roads, with its leisurely 11-second jaunt to 60mph. 

You can choose the 1.4 TSI for a little more pep, which offers 150bhp and achieves 60mph in around 9 seconds.

If you drive a higher mileage or enjoy the extra torque, the Touran has you covered with three Diesel versions. The smallest of these is the 1.6 TDI with 115bhp. 

This is focused on fuel economy rather than power, and takes almost 12 seconds to reach 60mph, but in return, you get nearly 62mpg. 

There is then a choice of two 2.0 TDI versions. With either 150bhp or 190bhp, the higher of which only being offered with a DSG gearbox. The 150bhp version still achieves over 60mpg, so it's probably worth choosing this over the smaller 1.6. 

 You can choose from five trim levels in the Touran, all of which are relatively well specified as standard. 

The S features DAB radio, air conditioning, electric heated mirrors and Bluetooth connectivity. Stepping up to the SE buys you extra goodies such as alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and front and rear parking sensors. 

The SE Family adds satellite navigation and a panoramic sunroof. The SEL adds luxurious touches inside, including piano black trim, 17" alloys, climate control and extra safety equipment. 

The sporty R-Line adds a striking body kit and 18" alloy wheels, and some nice touches inside, including sports seats and a leather steering wheel. 

What should I look for?

Under the skin, the Touran is a little different to its other VW siblings, so you can be assured that you're buying a high quality, durable car.

However, it's always wise to do your homework and choose carefully. Look out for car park dings and interior wear that signals heavy family use and abuse.

Check the service book to make sure it has been serviced on time and that wearable items such as the cambelt have been changed on time.

Diesel versions can have issues with the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) if they've lived in towns on short journeys.

Check for smooth power delivery to ensure that the turbo is running well, and feel the clutch biting point to make sure it's not worn from short town journeys. Otherwise, the Touran should guarantee you many years of happy motoring.